TAMPA, (WFLA) – The USF Bulls (1-6; 0-3 AAC) battled conference-leading Tulane (6-1; 3-0 AAC) late Saturday afternoon in a 17-17 game in the third quarter when the Green Wave exploded for 14 straight points in a 62-second burst and went on to claim a 45-31 victory on the Bulls’ Homecoming Day.
USF played the bulk of the game without starting quarterback Gerry Bohanon who was injured with just over 6:30 left to play in the second quarter, adding to the Bulls already significant injury woes. The Bulls still had the game tied at 17 late in the third quarter.
Linebacker Dwayne Boyles continued his strong play, leading USF in tackles for the third straight game as he posted a career-high 15 to go with a sack, two tackles for loss and a big forced fumble. Wide Receiver Jimmy Horn Jr. caught five passes for 98 yards and a touchdown.
Playing in relief of Bohanon, Katravis Marsh completed 7-of-15 passes for 150 yards and two touchdowns but had a key third quarter fumble deep in USF territory.
Head Coach Jeff Scott said after the game, “They did an X-ray and they said the X-ray was negative, which is a positive, which is a good thing. But he (Bohannon) didn’t have much strength in it. They want to do some more testing so we know.”
Tulane kicked an early field goal to take a 3-0 lead. On the Bulls’ second possession, USF turned the ball over on its own 35 on a Kelley Joiner fumble, but the defense came up with a big stop and a missed Green Wave field goal resulted in no points.
USF capitalized on the momentum from the stop as Bohanon drove the Bulls 79 yards, using a big 44-yard pass to Horn Jr., gaining a big first down with his legs and then sealing the deal with an 8-yard touchdown pass back to Horn Jr. to take the lead 7-3.
Tulane responded by going 75 yards on nine plays for a touchdown capped by a 5-yard quarterback keeper by Michael Pratt to retake the lead 10-7.
With the Bulls not backing down, Bohanon matched Pratt’s effort and drove USF 75 yards, running for a 33-yard touchdown to put the Bulls back on top, 14-10.
On the next Tulane possession, the Bulls defense stood tall and forced Tulane to punt, continuing the momentum.
With USF driving with about six and a half minutes left in the second quarter, Bohanon injured his right throwing shoulder after a run and did not return to the game. Backup quarterback Marsh took over after Bohanon started 7-of-8 for 109 yards and a touchdown and ran for 59 yards and a touchdown, leaving the game with a four-point USF lead.
With the use of two timeouts and five and a half minutes, Tulane moved to the USF11. The Bulls’ defense pressured the Green Wave into an intentional grounding with 12 seconds left in the half. To avoid the 10 second run-off, Tulane took their final timeout. The Green Wave went for the touchdown instead of a field goal and took a 17-14 lead into halftime when Pratt hit Shea Wyatt for an 11-yard touchdown pass with 3 seconds in the half.
On Tulane’s opening drive of the second half, they drove to the USF20. Instead of kicking the field goal on fourth down, they went for it and Defensive End Tramel Loganbatted down the pass for a turnover on downs.
The Bulls then drove 45 yards on six plays and Kicker Spencer Shrader landed a 23-yard field goal to tie the game 17-17 with less than five minutes to go in the third quarter. The next 62 seconds changed everything.
On the ensuing drive, Tulane’s Tyjae Spears responded with a 75-yard touchdown run on Tulane’s first play from scrimmage. When the Bulls received the ball, Marsh fumbled it on the USF six-yard line on the Bulls second play from scrimmage. The Green Wave capitalized on their first play when Spears rushed for a six-yard touchdown to extend the Tulane lead to 14 points, 31-17.
The USF defense dug in and Boyles forced a fumble on the Tulane 18-yard line that was recovered byJatorian Hansford. Marsh completed his second career touchdown pass with a 17-yard toss to Weaver to close the gap to 24-31 at the end of the third quarter.
The Green Wave marched down the field in less than two minutes for a 16-yard touchdown pass from Pratt to Dea Dea McDougle to push the lead back to 14, 38-24.
The Bulls were unable to respond this time. Tulane drive down the field again going seven plays and 54 yards to stretch the lead to 44-24 with less than 10 minutes to go in the game.
Marsh completed a career long 73-yard touchdown pass to Wide Receiver Dequan Stanley for his first touchdown late in the fourth quarter to make the score 45-31.
The Bulls next game is Oct. 29 at Houston. Gametime is TBA.